Magazine scams may occur via the phone, door-to-door, on-line or through mail solicitations. Scammers trick consumers into paying many times more than the regular subscription price or paying money for magazines that are never received. Refunds may be difficult or impossible to obtain. Here are some common magazine scams:

  • Mail solicitations designed to look like renewal invoices. You receive a postcard in the mail that looks like a renewal notice from your existing magazine publisher. It indicates that your magazine subscription is about to expire. Although the fine print may disclose that this is a solicitation, not a bill, many consumers do not notice or read the fine print. If you respond to the solicitation, you will end up paying a much higher than normal price for your subscription and you may find it difficult to cancel the subscription and get a refund.
  • Door-to-door sales benefitting a school activity or charity. A high school or college-aged youth comes to your door selling magazine subscriptions that will supposedly help fund a school activity or charity. The magazines are overpriced, but you are willing to overlook that in order to support a good cause.  It turns out that the whole thing is a ruse. You are now out the money you paid, have no magazines to show for it, and cannot get ahold of the company.
  • You’ve won a prize. A scammer calls and tells you that you have won a valuable prize and that in order to collect it you must order a magazine service that costs just “pennies a day.”  You agree to sign up for the service and provide the caller with your credit card information. The scammer then charges you more than $1,000 for magazines and you never receive your prize.

Tips for Buying Magazines

  • Pay online at the magazine’s website or contact the subscription department by phone using the number listed in the magazine itself or on the magazine’s website.
  • Never pay in cash.  It is safest to use credit cards because they offer protection against fraudulent charges.
  • Ask to see the terms and conditions for the subscription before you purchase. Legitimate magazines will be happy to provide you with that information in writing. 
  • If someone comes to your door selling magazines to fund a school activity, contact the school directly to verify that it is actually running the promotion described. 
  • Don’t get rushed into making a decision. Take your time and make sure you understand what you are agreeing to.